WATFORD FC confirms its application for Category Two Academy status has been accepted by the Professional Game Board.
Category Two recognition, under the Elite Player Performance Plan implemented by the Premier League, allows the club to operate an Under-21 fixture programme as part of its youth development set-up.
Both the Under-18 and Under-21 sides will now compete against the very best Category One and Two clubs from around the country.
The Hornets will therefore compete in both the Under-21 Premier League and the Premier League Under-21 Cup competitions in 2015/16.
"It's very much the right time for this club to be moving into Category Two of the Elite Player Performance Plan," said Hornets' CEO Scott Duxbury.
"The first-class academy structure already in place when we arrived at the club three years ago has continued to go from strength to strength and the recent grading bears this out.
"We took a reflective position when EPPP launched," Duxbury explained.
"Category Three was right for us initially, but we've reviewed constantly and believe firmly that a schedule of fixtures against high-calibre opposition - both at Under-18 and Under-21 levels - is essential for the continued development of high quality home-grown talent at Watford.
"Our academy set-up is very highly regarded and that's down to the commitment of players, parents and staff - led by Chris McGuane, our Head of Academy.
"The pathway to the first-team will always exist for the very best young talent here at Watford.
"Premier League status makes that challenge harder but it means players are aiming ever higher and supporters will see the benefit of this when they come to watch these players perform."